Recreational and Commercial Dungeness Crab Fisheries Open South of Sonoma-Mendocino County Line, Crab Testing Continues

crab in trap
Dungeness crab in crab pot

Update – 5/2/2016 More Areas Open for Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishing, Commercial Fishery to Open in Same Areas in 10 Days

Update – 4/22/2016 CDFW Announces Latest Dungeness and Rock Crab Openings, Closures

Update – 4/4/2016  On March 11, 2016 the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and California Department of Public Health lifted the health advisory for Dungeness crab for the region south of the Sonoma-Mendocino County line (near Gualala, Mendocino County). The recreational Dungeness crab fishery has been open since this date, and the commercial fishery opened in this area on March 26. Continue reading

“Perfect Storm” Decimates Northern California Kelp Forests

waves_A.Maguire
photo by A. Maguire
kelp cover maps
Comparison of kelp cover at four important abalone fishery sites in 2008 and 2014. Green indicates kelp canopy observed. Maps created from data collected during CDFW aerial surveys. (Data: M. Fredle)

Northern California kelp forests have been reduced to an all-time low due to a “perfect storm” of large-scale ecological impacts. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) marine invertebrate management team has conducted annual ecosystem surveys of kelp forests in Sonoma and Mendocino counties since the late 1990s, and recent observations have caused concern about the state of the kelp forests. The severe reduction in kelp has already impacted the recreational red abalone fishery and commercial red urchin fishery, two economically important fisheries in northern California.

Abalone and Urchins Starving
Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana), usually common on the northern California coast, has declined dramatically since 2014. Kelp forests are now 93 percent smaller compared to previous years, creating starvation conditions for herbivores. Continue reading

California Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery Remains Closed While Crab Testing Continues

Dungeness crab
Dungeness crab

Update – 3/15/2016   The commercial Dungeness crab fishery remains closed statewide while the recreational fishery opened last month south of Point Reyes, Marin County (38° North latitude) following a recommendation from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and Department of Public Health that lifted the health advisory for Dungeness crab in this area. Dungeness crab domoic acid test results from Bodega Bay have shown “clean” areas (less than 30 parts per million (ppm) domoic acid concentration in the crab), but the Russian River area still needs two clean tests. Continue reading

Exploring California’s Marine Protected Areas: Point St. George Reef Offshore State Marine Conservation Area

The beauty and charm of the area north of Point Arena is not lost on those who explore the remote wilderness. Rugged coastlines plunge into the sea, fog rolls in from the ocean and quiets the surrounding hillsides, and hiking trails beckon those wanting to explore some of California’s most pristine nature. The area lays claim to a quieter, slower-paced life, compared to the industrialized areas farther south. Continue reading